welcome to chandigarh


Please keep your sector neat and clean.

Dogs are not allowed in the park.

Smoking in public places is an offence.

-House Owners Association, (Regd) Sector 20-A, Chandigarh

I will be living in Chandigarh for the next 3 weeks. While it resonates with various facets of metropolitan India, in many ways the city feels very different from any other urban area in the country. Public spaces are kept clean with foliage trimmed, traffic follows (most) rules, and leafy, tree-lined streets face nothing but walls.

In my first few days here, aside from organizing the logistics of living, eating and moving around, I have walked and walked and walked. So far I have seen 26 sectors, twice that many traffic circles, a surprising number of public restrooms,

and 1 exotic bird (anyone know what that is?).

The people of Chandigarh have been incredibly warm and generous…many have bent over backwards to help me arrange things, and have given their time to answer my questions. I have also been invited to tea by at least one family each day, and have had multiple offers for hosting me! I have appreciated all the help as I navigate the city on my own.

To understand how the city has grown away from its plan, I am looking at examples from each of its different, separated functions (commerce, administration, residence, leisure and transit), in each case measuring what was there versus what is, and how these separations have, in some cases, begun to melt, while in others they remain firm.

The city consists of 47 sectors (but actually over 80 if you include Mohali, which extends the grid but sits across the border of Punjab), organized by a gridded road system.

Sector 17, the “heart” of the city and the main commercial area, contains most of Chandigarh’s restaurants, shops, banks and services in a large plaza flanked by grandiose pedestrian pathways offering more alternatives for consumption. 4-story buildings surround pedestrians with their signs.

In the remaining sectors, commercial areas should include just daily needs, since all other commercial needs would be met in Sector 17. However, many of the markets have become specialized (sarees in sector 11, bikes and mechanics in sector 15 etc.). Commercial zones are creeping outward as well.

More to come…


9 thoughts on “welcome to chandigarh

  1. Hi, Missy (& Sachin, I assume)! Rest assured that I am checking out your
    blog and hope to hear from you at least occasionally via the old-style
    e-mail too! Note that I have your research plan saved on my desktop, so I’ll
    be monitoring your progress with that to reference as well. Love and best
    wishes…Uncle Dave

  2. Thanks for the update and pictures! Sounds like an orderly place.
    So glad to hear of the hospitality you’re receiving there. Love, Mom

  3. Thanks so much for your Blog.
    I don’t know if you received the Birthday greetings from Grandpa and me but if you didn’t we hope you had a Happy Birthday.
    I hope Rich and Jill are reading this Blog – he’ll be very interested in that bird.

  4. Hi Missy!

    So cool to see some of your photos.

    I was thinking about you the other day—they ran a big article in Fast Company about Stan Gale and the New Songdo development project in S. Korea. How is what they are doing any different from the type of planned city that you are looking at in India? And who are they kidding–do they think that after all these years of failed planned cities they can get it right? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    Have fun, and “hello” to Sachin!


    1. Lars! Hello! glad to hear from you.

      Songdo and other massive developments like it are a big factor in why I started this project. In my view, Songdo is the same type of masterplan that has been thrown down in rapidly developing cities over the past 50 years…plus a few flashy curves.

      In many cases these developments are in response to a real housing need, and a city’s attempt to gain global stature. My project is attempting to begin a process of documenting the changes, alterations, issues and successes of mid-century mega-projects, which are an obvious precedent to Songdo et al. Through this project, I hope to begin a conversation (but would love to offer an alternative) about building for rapid needs in a way that accommodates and uses time…something that is not often done very well.

      About Songdo? I agree…I think it is an ill-fated attempt to produce a city too quickly, and its goals are a little ridiculous, since its proximity to Beijing (shipping…) means that it likely will not achieve any major status level as a port on the Pacific.

  5. i checked and got it confirmed that the bird is Indian grey hornbill- definitely exotic according to me and was glad to see about 6 of them together on these beautiful Indian gooseberry trees in my supershort 20hrs stay in the city!

  6. I was delighted to hear from your Mom that you’re doing a blog–it works for me to live vicariously, with three small children. Oh, and Mark’s job being here in Grand Rapids, and all 🙂 But I also just enjoy what people are doing and learning. I look forward to what you will share with your readers. The weather is a little different than here, eh? We just completed a small backyard icerink and the girls are learning to skate! Blessings as you live and travel, and develop your marriage and life together at the same time. That said, I realize that a sweet CONGRATULATIONS is still in order!

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